The present paper aims to unearth the rudiments of an alternative theory of action in Weber. Centring on salient descriptions of scientific practice found in Weber, I argue that one finds so-called “relational” impulses in these instances, which are at odds with the Kantian, subject-centred and dualist perspectives pervading much of Weber’s thought.
The paper consists of two parts. In the first—critical—part, after a short sketch of my relational approach, I cite some well-known “Kantian” passages in Weber’s work and demonstrate their undesirable theoretical and empirical consequences. I investigate Weber’s “official” theory of action and understanding, his concepts of rationality and psychology, and his understanding of technological mediation. In the second—positive—part, I delve into Weber’s understanding of creativity, investigating relational traits in Weber’s descriptions of scientific practice and experience. I then demonstrate how Weber’s late concept of personality is based on relational and object-oriented attitudes. Further, I investigate how the two dimensions of creativity and personality merge in his concept of Sachlichkeit. Finally, I provide certain biographical observations and discuss the conflict between existentialist and relational interpretations of Weber. At the very end of the paper, I discuss some general implications of the relational perspective.
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